Humans Left Sustainability Behind as Hunter-Gatherers


Many people believe that humans can have a sustainable future by using solar panels and wind turbines. Unfortunately, the only truly sustainable course, in terms of moving in cycles with nature, is interacting with the environment in a manner similar to the approach used by chimpanzees and baboons. Even this approach will eventually lead to new and different species predominating. Over a long period, such as 10 million years, we can expect the vast majority of species currently alive will become extinct, regardless of how well these species fit in with nature’s plan.

The key to the relative success of animals such as chimpanzees and baboons is living within a truly circular economy. Sunlight falling on trees provides the food they need. Waste products of their economy come back to the forest ecosystem as fertilizer.

Pre-humans lost the circular economy when they learned to control fire over one million years ago, when they were still hunter-gatherers. With the controlled use of fire, cooked food became possible, making it easier to chew and digest food. The human body adapted to the use of cooked food by reducing the size of the jaw and digestive tract and increasing the size of the brain. This adaptation made pre-humans truly different from other animals.

With the use of fire, pre-humans had many powers. They spent less time chewing, so they could spend more time making tools. They could burn down entire forests, if they so chose, to provide a better environment for the desired types of wild plants to grow. They could use the heat from fire to move to colder environments than the one to which they were originally adapted, thus allowing a greater total population.

Once pre-humans could outcompete other species, the big problem became diminishing returns. For example, once the largest beasts were killed off, only smaller beasts were available to eat. The amount of effort required to kill these smaller beasts was not proportionately less, however.

In this post, I will explain further the predicament we seem to be in. We have deviated so far from the natural economy that we really cannot go back. At the same time, the limits we are reaching are straining our economic system in many ways. Some type of discontinuity, or collapse, seems to be not very far away.

[1] Even before the appearance of hunter-gatherers, ecosystems around the world exhibited a great deal of cycling from state to state.

Many people are under the illusion that before the meddling of humans, the populations of different types of plants and animals tended to be pretty much constant. This isn’t really the way things work, however, in a finite world. Instead, the populations of many species cycle up and down, depending on particular conditions such as the population of animals that prey on them, the availability of food, the prevalence of disease, and the weather conditions.

Figure 1. Numbers of snowshoe hare (yellow, background) and Canada lynx (black line, foreground) furs sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company. Canada lynxes eat snowshoe hares. Image by Lamiot, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons. Link.

Even forests exhibit surprising variability. Many undergo regular cycles of burning. In fact, some species of trees, such as the giant sequoias in Yosemite, require fire in order to reproduce. These cycles are simply part of the natural order of self-organizing ecosystems in a finite world.

[2] A major feature of ecosystems is “Selection of the Best Adapted.”

Each species tends to give birth to many more offspring than are necessary to live to maturity if the population of that species is to remain level. Each of the individual offspring varies in many random ways from its parents. Ecosystems are able to keep adapting to changing conditions by permitting only the best-adapted offspring to survive. In favorable periods (suitable weather, not much disease, ample food, not too many predators), a large share of the offspring may survive. In less favorable periods, few of the offspring will survive.

When selection of the best adapted is taken into account, a changing climate is of little concern because, regardless of the conditions, some individual offspring will survive. Over time, new and different species are likely to develop that are better adapted to the changing conditions.

[3] The downsides of living within the limits provided by nature are easy to see.

One issue is that every mother can expect to see the majority of her offspring die. In fact, her own life expectancy is uncertain. It depends upon whether there are nearby predators or a disease against which she has no defense. Even a fairly small injury could lead to her death.

Another issue is lack of shelter from the elements. Moving to an area where the weather is too harsh becomes impossible. Our earliest pre-human ancestors seem to have lived near the equator where seasonal temperature differences are small.

Without supplemental heating or cooling, humans living in many places in the world today would have a difficult time following the way of nature because of weather conditions. As we will see in later sections, it was grains that allowed people to settle in areas that were too cold for crops in winter.

In theory, there are alternatives to grain in cold climates. For example, a small share of the population might be able to get most of its calories from eating raw fish, as the Inuit have done. Eating raw fish is not generally an option for people living inland, however. Also, in later sections, we will talk about the difference between the use of root vegetables and grains as the primary source of calories. In some sense, the use of grains provides a stepping stone toward big government, roads, and what we think of as a modern existence, while the use of root vegetables does not. Eating raw fish is similar to eating root vegetables, in that it doesn’t provide a stepping stone toward a modern existence.

[4] Animals make use of some of the same techniques as humans to compete with other species. These techniques are added complexity and added energy supply.

We think of complexity as being equivalent to added technology, but it also includes many related techniques, such as the use of tools, the use of specialization and the use of long-distance travel.

Animals use many types of complexity. Bees build hives and carry out tasks divided among the queen bee, drone bees, and worker bees. Many birds fly to another continent in winter, in order to gain access to an adequate food supply. Chimpanzees use tools, such as waving a stick or throwing a rock to ward off predators. Beavers build dams that provide themselves with an easy source of food in winter.

Some members of the animal kingdom, known as parasites, even leverage their own energy by using the energy of other plants or animals. Such use of the energy of a host is subject to limits; if the parasite uses too much, it risks killing its host.

While animals other than humans may use similar techniques to humans, they don’t go as far as humans. Humans employ a variety of supplemental materials in their tools. Also, no animal other than humans has learned to control fire.

[5] Pre-humans seem to have learned to control fire over 1 million years ago, allowing humans to gain an advantage in killing wild beasts.

Richard Wrangham, in Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, makes the case that the controlled use of fire allowed the changes in anatomy that differentiate humans from other primates. With the controlled use of fire, humans could cook some of their food, making it easier to chew and digest. As a result, the teeth, jaws and guts of humans could be relatively smaller, and the brain could be larger. The larger brain allowed humans to compete better against other species. Also, cooking food greatly reduced the time spent chewing food, increasing the time available for making crafts and tools of various kinds. The heat of fire allowed pre-humans to move into new areas with colder climates. The heat of fires also allowed pre-humans to ward off some of the impact of ice-ages, which they were able to survive.

James C. Scott, in Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, explains that being able to burn biomass was sufficient to turn around who was in charge: pre-humans or large animals. In one cave in South Africa, he indicates that a lower layer of remains found in the cave did not show any carbon deposits, and hence were created before pre-humans occupying the cave gained control of fire. In this layer, skeletons of big cats were found, along with scattered gnawed bones of pre-humans.

In a higher layer, carbon deposits were found. In this layer, pre-humans were clearly in charge. Their skeletons were much more intact, and the bones of big cats were scattered about and showed signs of gnawing. Who was in charge had changed! We know that human controlled fires can be used to scare away wild animals, burn down entire forests if desired, and make sharper spears. It shouldn’t be surprising that humans gained the upper hand.

[6] Grains, because of their energy density, portability, and ability to be stored, seem to have played a major role in the development of governments and of cities.

Scott, in Against the Grain, also points out that early economies that were able to grow grains were the economies that were able to place taxes on those grains, and with those taxes, were able to fund governments offering more services. Grains are a storable form of energy for humans. They are portable and energy dense, as well. It was grains that allowed people to settle in areas that were too cold for growing crops in winter. The year-to-year variability in production made storage of reserves important. Governments could provide this function, and other functions, such as roads.

If we analyze the situation, it is apparent that the existence of grain crops provided a subsidy to the rest of the economy. Farmers and their slaves could grow far more grain than they themselves required for calories, leaving much grain for trading with others. This surplus could be used to feed the population of cities, such as Rome. It was no longer necessary for everyone to be hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers. There could be new occupations such as merchants, teachers, carpenters, and sailors. Many more goods and services in total could be produced, and the population of cities could grow.

Cities, themselves, provide benefits, because they allow economies of scale, and they allow people with different skills to mix. Geoffrey West, in his book Scale, notes that larger cities produce disproportionately more patents. Thus, technology is advanced with the growth of cities.

It might be noted that root crops, even though they could provide most of the same food energy benefits for humans as grain crops, did not help economies grow in the same ways that grain crops did. This, likely, was part of the reason that they were not taxed: They produced no excess benefit to give back to the government.

Root vegetables are not as helpful as grains. They are less energy dense than grains, making them heavier and bulkier for transport. They do not store as well as grains. In early days, root crops could be about as efficiently grown by individual families as by farmers specializing in such crops, making it hard to leverage the labor that went into growing root crops. In fact, there was less real need for government with root crops: There was no way to store supplies of root crops in case of poor harvest, and there was little need for roads to transport the crops.

[7] The added energy benefits of grain crops created a situation where the grain was “worth” far more to customers, and to the economy as a whole, than what would be indicated by their cost of production.

There is a belief among economists, and among much of the population, that the selling price of a commodity will be determined by its cost of production. In fact, the example given in Section [6] indicates that back in the early days of grain production, grain’s selling price could be far greater than its direct cost of production, with the difference going into taxes that would benefit the government and the economy as a whole.

In fact, there was a second way that the usage of grain was helpful to governments. The efficiency of grain production, transport, and storage reduced the need for farmers. Former farmers could offer services not previously available to citizens, often in cities. Income from the new jobs could also be taxed, to give governments another stream of income.

[8] The use of coal and oil also produced situations where the value of energy products to the economy was far higher than their direct cost of production, allowing these products to be heavily taxed.

Tony Wrigley, in his book Energy and the English Industrial Revolution, indicates that with the use of coal, farming became a much more productive endeavor. The crop yield from cereal crops, net of the amount fed to draft animals, nearly tripled between 1600 and 1800, which was the period when coal production ramped up in England. Coal allowed the use of far more metal tools, which were vastly superior to tools made from wood. In addition, roads to mines were greatly improved. Prior to this time, few roads were paved in England. These improved roads helped the economy as a whole.

Oil is known today for the high taxes it pays to governments. The governments of oil exporting countries are very dependent upon tax revenue relating to oil. When the selling price of oil is low, this results in a crisis period for oil exporting countries because they have no other way of collecting adequate tax revenue to support the programs for their people. For a short time, they can borrow money, but when this alternative fails, governments are likely to be overturned by their unhappy citizens.

[9] The economy tends to move further and further away from the natural order (described in Sections [1], [2], and [3]) as more energy consumption is added.

Even though the natural order would be sustainable, it doesn’t represent a situation that most people today would like to live in. In fact, most humans today could not live on completely uncooked food, even if they wanted to. While a few people today eat “raw food” diets, they often use a food processor or blender to reduce the amount of chewing and digesting of raw foods to a manageable level. Even then, their weights tend to stay low.

If energy products are available at an affordable price, humans find many ways to use them, to stay away from the natural order. Some examples include the following:

  • To provide transportation, other than walking.
  • To pipe clean water to homes.
  • To make growing and storage of food easy.
  • To allow homes to be heated and cooled.
  • To allow medicines and vaccines.
  • To allow most children to live to maturity.

[10] Because energy consumption is important in all aspects of the economy, the economy seems to reach many kinds of limits simultaneously.

There are many limits that the world economy seems to reach simultaneously. The underlying problem in all of these areas seems to be diminishing returns. In theory, these issues could all be worked around, using increasing energy consumption or increasing complexity:

  • Too little fresh water for an increasing population.
  • The need to keep increasing food production, with the same amount of arable land.
  • Increased difficulty with insect pests, such as locusts.
  • Increased difficulty in dealing with viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Overfished oceans so that farmed fish are required in addition.
  • Ores of metals of ever-lower grade, requiring more processing and leading to more waste.
  • More expensive techniques required for the extraction of fossil fuels.
  • Many unprofitable businesses; much debt likely to default.
  • Too few jobs that pay well enough to support a family
  • Governments unable to collect enough taxes

Energy and complexity work together to leverage human labor, in a way that the economy can make more goods and services in total. Unfortunately, we cannot use complexity to make energy. Technology (which is a form of complexity) can convert energy to useful work and, through efficiency gains, increase the percentage of energy that is available for useful work, but it cannot make energy. If we add more technology, more robots, and more international trade, we likely will need more energy, not less.

The net impact of all of these issues is that to maintain our economy, we really need an ever-increasing quantity of energy. In fact, energy consumption likely needs to grow more rapidly than population simply to keep the system from collapse.

Wind and solar certainly cannot meet today’s energy needs. Together, wind and solar amount to about 3.3% of the world’s energy supply, based on BP estimates for 2019. Furthermore, wind and intermittent solar certainly cannot be sold at a price high above their cost of production, the way grain, coal and oil have been sold historically. In fact, wind and solar invariably need the huge subsidy of being allowed to “go first.” They actually are reliant on a profitable fossil fuel system to subsidize them, or they fall completely “flat.”

[11] The problem, as the economy reaches limits, is too few goods and services being produced to satisfy all parts of the economy simultaneously. The parts of the economy that especially tend to get shortchanged are (a) governments, (b) energy producers, and (c) workers without special skills who are selling their labor as a form of “energy.”

When economies are doing well, the price of energy products tends to be high. These high prices allow very high taxes on energy products. They also allow significant funds for reinvestment for the energy companies themselves. Indirectly, these high prices allow a significant share of the goods and services made by the economy to be transferred to these sectors of the economy.

In addition, energy products allow non-farm workers in many areas of the economy to produce their goods and services more efficiently, thereby helping push up the wages of common laborers.

As economies reach limits, there is, in some sense, a need for more energy in many sectors of the economy. The catch is that the “wages” and “profits” needed to purchase this energy aren’t really available to provide the demand needed to keep energy prices up. As a result, energy prices and production tend to fall. Government-imposed limitations, intended to stop the spread of COVID-19, may also keep energy demand down.

Governments often fail, or they get into major conflicts with other governments, when there are resource shortages of the kinds we are currently encountering. Today is in many ways like the period of the Great Depression, which preceded World War II.

[12] Perhaps warm, wet countries will be somewhat more successful than cold countries and those without water, in the years ahead.

I showed a chart in my most recent post, Energy Is the Economy, that illustrates the wide range of energy consumption around the world.

Figure 2. Energy consumption per capita in 2019 for a few sample countries based on data from BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy. Energy consumption includes fossil fuel energy, nuclear energy and renewable energy of many types. It omits energy products not traded through markets, such as locally gathered wood and animal dung. This omission tends to somewhat understate the energy consumption for countries such as India and those located in Middle Africa.

If fossil fuel energy falls, I expect that the parts of the world with cold temperatures will experience particular difficulty because they tend to use disproportionately large amounts of energy (Figure 2). Their citizens cannot get along very well without heat for their homes. Winter becomes very dark, if supplemental lighting is not available. Walking long distances in the cold becomes a problem as well.

The warmer countries have a better chance because they do not require as complex economies as cold countries. They can feed at least part of their population with root crops. Walking is a reasonable transportation option, and there is no problem with months on end of darkness if supplemental lighting is not available. For these reasons, warm countries would seem to have a better chance of passing through the difficult times ahead while sustaining a reasonable-sized population.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,604 Responses to Humans Left Sustainability Behind as Hunter-Gatherers

  1. Mirror on the wall says:

    I came across another passage in Zarathustra that seems to speak to some of Gail’s themes.

    …. Indeed, you do not love the earth as creators, begetters, and enjoyers of becoming!
    Where is innocence? Where there is will to beget. And whoever wants to create over and beyond himself, he has the purest will.
    Where is beauty? Where I must will with my entire will; where I want to love and perish so that an image does not remain merely an image.
    Loving and perishing: these have gone together since the beginning of time. Will to love: that means being willing also for death. Thus I speak to you cowards! – Of the Immaculate Perception

    Again, he is touching on the eternal joy in becoming and destruction that he metaphorically ascribes to the earth and to which he urges us.

    Nothing is, all is becoming and passing away. He urges us to be creators and begetters like the earth. All creation destroys that which is, that it might become that which is to be. Creation is an act of destruction. So it is for the planet. Creation is not a one off act out of nothing, rather it is the ongoing creation of the yet to be out of that which is.

    The moment contains the things that are, in their process of ceasing to be so that other things will be. The species likewise have an ongoing creation, the one out of the transition and the demise of the other. And people, the one generation creates the next on its journey to nothingness, to death. Thus we are to love as the earth, in becoming and destruction.

    He urges us to beget, to participate in the procreation of the next generation – not merely to ponder life without desire, but to desire, to love, to reproduce, to joyfully create. To create is always to commit the created to its own destruction, and so it is with procreation. There is no creation without destruction, no life without death, no species without extinction. Thus the earth has it.

    Death is not to be feared, it is the precondition of life. Extinction is not to be feared, it is condition of the coming to be of species. Nor is civilizational collapse to be feared.

    Collapse is the precondition of civilisation; spent fossil fuels that of their use. The collapse of civilisation is no objection to its creation any more than death is an objection to life. Life is not to be feared for its consequences and neither is the collapse of civilisation to be feared. To create a civilisation is to commit it to its destruction and its life takes it closer to its demise. All that we create, we commit to destruction.

    All is to be desired and enjoyed in its time. Have children, enjoy them and let them enjoy their lives. Enjoy BAU and industrial civilisation while it lasts. Let the party go on. That is innocent and as it should be. So what if the population is soon to collapse – life always entails death. So what if civilisation is to fall, they all do. All that comes to be must pass away and nothing otherwise would be.

    So, all is well and all will be well. Life is to be embraced, and the collapse is to be embraced, of industrial civilisation and of the human population. Our age must end so that the next may begin. We would all still be in some cave community were that not the case – or still apes. This population must go that another may come – that which is yet beyond ourselves. A new people with a new way of life of their own.

    Our species will either evolve and survive or it will not. Either way, the earth will go on ‘joyfully’ with its creation and destruction. Our place is not to mourn that process but to rejoice in it, in destruction as the condition of creation, and in creation as its consequence – to join our wills joyfully with all that is, all that was, and all that will ever be – in an eternal joy in the becoming and the destruction that is the earth. That is the purest will and innocent.

    • We wonder whether the earth, and perhaps the entire universe, was created for the benefit of mankind.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        here is an alternative view:

        “The anthropic principle is a group of principles attempting to determine how statistically probable our observations of the universe are, given that we could only exist in a particular type of universe to start with.[1] In other words, scientific observation of the universe would not even be possible if the laws of the universe had been incompatible with the development of sentient life. Proponents of the anthropic principle argue that it explains why this universe has the age and the fundamental physical constants necessary to accommodate conscious life, since if either had been different, we would not have been around to make observations. Anthropic reasoning is often used to deal with the fact that the universe seems to be fine tuned.”

        I think this means that if the universe didn’t evolve exactly as it did evolve, then we wouldn’t be here.

        conversely, because we humans are here, we know that the universe evolved just right so that humans eventually evolved and now we are here to observe that the universe evolved exactly right for us to be here.

        I also think this means that the odds were 100% that an intelligent species would find itself in a place that was hospitable to its evolution.

        and so we shouldn’t be at all surprised that we live in such a place.

        • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          an additional thought is that whatever it was that produced the universe was sufficient to produce the universe.

          a usual proposal is God.

          but there can be infinite counter proposals, and serious or not, any counter proposal could be true, since we know that the universe has been produced.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Another example of the anthropic principle is that our legs are just long enough to reach the ground. Just think: one centimeter shorter and we would be at the mercy of the wind; one centimeter longer and we would spend our whole lives rooted in one spot.

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          There seems to be a danger of confusing ‘efficient cause’ with ‘final cause’ (purpose) in ‘why’.

          (I am not saying that David or Gail falls into that error or that the ‘anthropic principle’ entails that error, but it may suggest or even encourage the error to some.)

          Everything that ‘is’ has its efficient cause otherwise it would not be; but final cause is a distinct concept that implies ‘purpose’ and sometimes ‘intention’.

          Everything that ‘is’ necessarily ‘is’ in so far as each effect necessarily follows from its cause.

          Everything would be the ‘purpose’ of the cosmos if we were to take ‘necessary efficient cause’ as the benchmark of ‘purpose’.

          So, the sun dissipates energy, and it ‘must’ do because it does so as an effect of efficient causes. Then one might as well say that the cosmos exists for the purpose to dissipate energy.

          Or, dolphins ‘must’ exist in so far as they do, so one might as well say that they are the purpose of the cosmos.

          Or any inanimate object for that matter; a mountain ‘must’ exist, so that mountain is the purpose.

          One cannot assume ‘purpose’ just from existence or from an existence that is ‘necessary’ according to efficient cause. Otherwise everything becomes the purpose (and nothing especially) simply from the fact it is exists.

          All that we can say is that our cosmos proceeds according to necessary laws, and so everything that ‘is’ necessarily ‘is’ in our cosmos. No ‘purpose’ or ‘intention’ can be deduced simply from that, as they are distinct concepts.

          To conflate the concepts makes everything, and thus nothing, the purpose, as everything has its necessary efficient cause.

          • Puppet Master says:

            “Or, dolphins ‘must’ exist in so far as they do, so one might as well say that they are the purpose of the cosmos.”

            One might also say that they are the porpoise of the cosmos.

          • JMS says:

            “One cannot assume ‘purpose’ just from existence or from an existence that is ‘necessary’ according to efficient cause.”

            Right. Otherwise we are just following the path to a philosophical bog called metaphysics.

            • Is the purpose of the universe to maximize energy dissipation and allow life as this goes on?

            • JMS says:

              The concept of purpose implies a mind and an intention, and to assume that behind a dissipative structure can exist an intention is a leap of faith that I am not willing to give.

              Philosophically, this leap is untenable. Or at least that was the conclusion reached by the methodical and impartial head of Herr Kant from Konigsberg. But of course he was just a man, albeit a bright one.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Just a reminder: Aristotle identified four causes: material cause, what it is made of; formal cause, how it is organised; efficient cause, how it came into being; final cause, what it is for.

              Final causes went out of favour after Newton, who made popular the idea of a mechanistic universe evolving in time from prior causes to post effects. Quantum mechanics requires final causes, but people still find that hard to believe.

              I do not. The universe has a cause; in particular, a formal cause, ie a designer. In what I hope will soon be called “Dawkins’ Paradox”, the designer must be more complex than the thing designed, just as the watchmaker is more complex than the watch.

              So the designer requires a super designer, who must have been created by a super duper designer, and we are in an infinite regress.

              Not so. What is more complex than the early universe? Answer, the later universe. And there you will find the designers.

            • Mirror on the wall says:

              “Quantum mechanics requires final causes”

              That does not seem to be widely accepted.

              Your claim that the cosmos has a ‘formal cause’ is no more than asserted. There would in any case be no need to make a ‘designer’ that ‘formal’ cause.

              The ‘teleological argument’ for the existence of God has been done to death and it is not accepted – do we really have to rehash all that here?

              You are welcome to believe in religion but pls do not pretend that it is based on logical proof. That would not end to your satisfaction.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      Nietzsche made me laugh with his metaphor at the start of that passage.

      He likens the moon to a p/rvert sneaking about silently in its supposed ‘innocence’ and gazing through bedroom windows.

      He goes on to argue that no perception is devoid of will or motive. He ascribes the lessening of will, the pretention to immaculateness, to ’emasculation’ and he likens ‘desireless’ celibacy (or art) to dodgy voyeurism, of which he makes the moon the metaphor.

      The point that he is making is that no perception is devoid of will or motives and that we should get stuck into life and into breeding without any pretence to supposedly ‘superior’ values that mask emasculation.

      The ‘beautiful’ is an incitement to procreation. That is pure and innocent and the way of the earth.

      He was raised within a long line of Lutheran pastors. The impossibility of ‘immaculate perception’ chimes with the ‘universal depravity’ of Luther. Luther similarly incited Christians to eschew celibacy for matrimony.

      > When yester-eve the moon arose, then did I fancy it about to bear a sun: so broad and teeming did it lie on the horizon.
      But it was a liar with its pregnancy; and sooner will I believe in the man in the moon than in the woman.
      To be sure, little of a man is he also, that timid night-reveller. Verily, with a bad conscience doth he stalk over the roofs.
      For he is covetous and jealous, the monk in the moon; covetous of the earth, and all the joys of lovers.
      Nay, I like him not, that tom-cat on the roofs! Hateful unto me are all that slink around half-closed windows!
      Piously and silently doth he stalk along on the star-carpets: — but I like no light-treading human feet, on which not even a spur jingleth.
      Every honest one’s step speaketh; the cat however, stealeth along over the ground. Lo! cat-like doth the moon come along, and dishonestly. —
      This parable speak I unto you sentimental dissemblers, unto you, the “pure discerners!” You do I call — covetous ones!

    • How convenient! A card you can fill in to “prove” you had the vaccine, just like the card taxi drivers hand out for you to fill out with the amount you paid for taxi services and suitable initials. No need to actually take the vaccine.

  2. Tim Groves says:

    Color me shocked but not a bit surprised. The French authorities are getting authoritarian in a desperate to stamp out dissent.

    Accomplished pharma prof thrown in psych hospital after questioning official COVID narrative

    Early on December 10, Jean-Bernard Fourtillan, a French retired university professor known for his strong opposition to COVID-19 vaccines such as those presently being distributed in the U.K., was taken from his temporary home in the south of France by a team of “gendarmes” — French law enforcement officers under military command — and forcibly placed in solitary confinement at the psychiatric hospital of Uzès. His mobile phones were taken from him, and at the time of writing, he had not been allowed to communicate with the outside world. The order for his internment appears to have been issued by the local “préfet,” the official representative of the French executive.

    To read in detail about the Kafkaesque persecution this academic has been undergoing ad the hand of the French state:

    • notsofunny says:

      Great article with a lot of information and not just about the incredible abuse of using the system to “commit” someone who was a incredibly well qualified to question vaccination. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the norm. It solves a lot of legal problems. Anti vaxers are crazy. Off to the mental ward and nurse Crachet. They can stick the vax in with the Haldol TM and god knows what else.

      • Xabier says:

        It’s the Communist method: any opposition, however reasoned = ‘mental illness’, or a need for ‘further education’.

        Dark times.

    • notsofunny says:

      Wheres the line? If you believe voter fraud is possible are you heading for a Haldol TM shot? Flat earthers? Moon deniers? 911? JFK?

      They might need more Haldol TM than the vax.

      • Tegnell says:

        Sars and Sars Covid are very similar. Google that.

        They are both coronaviruses.

        Now read this and think about it for a few minutes.

        Feds Race to Make SARS Vaccine

        Developing a vaccine often takes a couple of decades or longer, but the federal government is aiming to develop a SARS vaccine in just three years. Scientists at the Vaccine Research Center are attacking the problem on several fronts, although some question whether a SARS vaccine is even possible.

        FIFTEEN OR 20 years to create a new vaccine is considered quite speedy. So the federal government’s blueprint for a shot to stop the SARS epidemic in a mere three years seems positively head-snapping.

        Can it be done?

        Certainly, says Dr. Gary Nabel, chief of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If everything went perfectly,” he qualifies. “If all the stars were aligned.”

        The stars almost never align precisely in medical research. But if they do, Nabel says scientists will finish all the basic lab work, creating the vaccine and testing it in animals, in just one year.

        Then they will spend two more trying it out on people to make sure it works, turn the results over to the Food and Drug Administration and be done.

        No vaccine in modern times has gone from start to finish nearly that fast. But even if Nabel’s time line proves unrealistic, his willingness to state it out loud shows how seriously the government takes SARS.

        The strategy for changing the pace from glacial to galactic: Forget solving problems one at a time.

        “We need a vaccine. There’s no question about it,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the infectious disease institute. “This is potentially disastrous enough that we can’t just hope it will go away and stay away.”

        Labs from Hong Kong to Canada are also tackling SARS vaccines, and Fauci said his institute will sign contracts with up to a dozen companies to help with development.

        At this point, however, the single biggest question is still unanswered: Is a SARS vaccine even possible?

        Dr. Emilio Emini, head of vaccine development at Merck, is among those trying to answer this. For now he refuses even to chance a guess.

        “This is a new virus. So much is not understood,” he says. “It’s a big black box.”

        Worry that a vaccine will be too dangerous is one reason development takes so long. No one wants to make healthy people sick by giving them shots intended to prevent illness. So typically vaccines are tested painstakingly on thousands of volunteers over many years to prove they do far more good than harm.

        Even with this, dangers may come to light only when they get into routine use. Four years ago, the first rotavirus vaccine was pulled from the market after just one year. The shots prevent childhood diarrhea, but they also turned out to cause life-threatening bowel obstructions in one in 10,000 recipients.

        Scientists are especially cautious because of their experience with vaccines aimed at animal relatives of the SARS virus. SARS is a coronavirus, the same virus family that causes serious diseases in pigs and other animals. While shots work well against some of these, they occasionally go disastrously bad. A vaccine for the feline coronavirus actually results in worse disease, not less, when cats catch the virus.

        Vaccines work by giving the body a glimpse of its target, typically a dead virus, a weakened live one or bits of viral proteins. When all goes well, the immune system remembers these and goes on full attack when it later encounters the real thing.

        But as happened with the cat vaccine, they sometimes trigger an off-kilter immune reaction, so when attacked by the actual virus, the system responds with a weak or misguided defense.

        Because the attenuated viruses cause true infections, they trigger an especially robust and well-rounded defense, arming the immune system to launch both antibodies and virus-killing T cells. But there are drawbacks: They can take a long time to make, and the crippled virus can theoretically mutate to regain its power, making people sick.

        “They are effective but dangerous, and it will take a long time to get one we would give to people,” says Picker.

        Vaccines based on genetic engineering may be faster.

        One approach is using gene-splicing to make plenty of SARS virus parts, such as the protein prongs that stick out from the virus, giving it a crown-like appearance under a microscope. Injecting these proteins — but not the virus itself — may be enough to prompt the immune system to recognize the SARS virus.

        Even if one of these approaches quickly shows promise, it still must be pushed through human testing in a part of the world where SARS is spreading or, if SARS disappears, go through extensive animal testing. Some doubt all this can be accomplished quickly.

        “Could the rules get changed so it would take less than 15 years? Yes. But could it be three years?” asks Dr. Donna Ambrosino, head of Massachusetts Biologic Laboratory, a nonprofit vaccine maker.

        Doubtful, she says. There are simply too many unknowns, both about the virus itself and the safety of any strategy to stop it. She notes that scientists have been trying since the 1960s to make a vaccine for another breathing infection, the respiratory syncytial virus, which causes serious disease in babies.

        “We know the proteins. We know the antibodies. We have animal models. We know all of that,” she says. “But we still don’t have a vaccine that works.”

        • Xabier says:

          The Chief Scientific Officer of the UK tried to side-step the issue of proper, extended, trials by praising the speed of development, only made possible by such an exciting novel technology, etc.

          Wow, gosh, give me some of that I want to step across the new frontier! we are supposed to say.

          The man is a disgrace, and his position untenable.

          I feel that the only hope might be when politicians, who only care about opinion polls, come to feel that they will lose many more votes by imposing the vaccines than they will gain by coming up with a ‘solution’.

          Unfortunately, project fear has been so effective, censorship is so aggressive, and people are so demoralised by the lock-downs, that they may still grasp at anything however dubious.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Dad! What’s wrong with the telly?

            Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle are celebrated with a nice holiday. I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

            There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.

            And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillence coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

            How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease.

            There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now High Chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

            Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.

            So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.


            • JMS says:

              Occasionally, onde i a lustre or so, the entertainment industry produces objects so subversive and illuminating that one wonders how any capitalist might have thought it a good idea to finance them? Examples: Soylent Green, Network, V for vendetta and Utopia.

            • JMS says:

              typo: once in a

    • avocado says:

      He went too far, especially when he pretended to sue (and jail?) the authorities

      You can say one truth, two or perhaps even three, but you must stop somewhere

    • Xabier says:

      Sounds as though the Pope would approve of that treatment.

      At least they can’t burn the poor old prof for his heresy!

    • This sounds like a major reason for his confinement:

      In particular, Fourtillan has accused the French Institut Pasteur, a private non-profit foundation that specializes in biology, micro-organisms, contagious diseases, and vaccination, of having “fabricated” the SARS-COV-2 virus over several decades and been a party to its “escape” from the Wuhan P4 lab — unbeknownst to the lab’s Chinese authorities — which was built following an agreement between France and China signed in 2004.

  3. wellofcourse says:

    Since every state has to have a vaccination plan to get the fed vaccination $ and these are public it may be of interest to some to read their states vaccination plan documents.

  4. JMS says:

    This is uterly unbelievable, they are promoting vaccines about which themselves say things like this:

    “The safety and efficacy of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2in children under 16 years of age have not yet been established.”

    “Immunocompromised persons [and who isn’t in our world i ask?] , including individuals receiving immunosuppressant therapy, may have a diminished immune response to the vaccine.No data are available about concomitant use of immunosuppressants”

    Interaction with other medicinal products and other forms of interaction: No interaction studies have been performed. [!!!!!!!!]

    Pregnancy: There are no or limited amount of data from the use of COVID-19 mRNAVaccine BNT162b2.Animal reproductive toxicity studies have not been completed.[WTF!]

    “Breast-feeding: It is unknown whetherCOVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is excreted in human milk.A risk to the newborns/infants cannot be excluded.” [LOL]

    But hey it shows an “efficacy of 94.6%”.

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Investors and analysts surveying the damage wrought by the pandemic have warned that it has exacerbated some of the most worrying trends in corporate debt markets and left balance sheets in a far riskier state.

    “US companies have borrowed a record $2.5tn in the bond market in 2020. The borrowing binge has driven leverage — a ratio that measures debt compared with earnings — to an all-time peak for higher-rated, investment grade companies, having already surpassed historic records at the end of 2019, according to data from Bank of America.

    “At the same time, companies’ ability to pay for the increase in debt has declined, with the number of so-called zombie companies — whose interest payments have been higher than profits for three years running — rising close to the historic peak, according to data from Leuthold Group.”

  6. Harry McGibbs says:

    “A ship fuel scandal is being uncovered that looks likely to be larger than the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal. It involves some of the biggest names in the global oil and shipping industry, and goes to the very top of the UN shipping regulator, the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

    “As a result, thousands of ships around the world are at risk of catastrophic engine failures, putting the lives of millions of sailors, coastal communities and the ocean environment at risk around the world.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The black-market trade in wildlife has moved online, and the deluge is ‘dizzying’:

      “The internet is now a global bazaar for the multibillion-dollar black market for exotic pets and animal parts, used for everything from curios and medicines to leather boots and skin rugs.”

    • According to the article,

      At the center of the scandal is a new experimental fuel used in large ocean-bound ships. The fuel’s name is called Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oil or VLSFO, and it turns out to essentially be a made-up fuel. It was such a mix of hazardous chemicals that the oil has been referred to as a super-pollutant ‘Frankenstein Fuel’ by leading NGOs.

      This is another Forbes article describing in more detail the problems of VLSFO:

      Shipping-Gate: Why Toxic VLSFO ‘Frankenstein Fuel’ Is Such A Danger For The Planet

      The engines operating the ships have been built to work with the fuel that they have been using in the past: Heavy Fuel Oil. This is basically what is left over at refineries, when the light parts have been taking off. I am sure that it tends to be high sulfur. Sulfur is a lubricant, which the ships engines need. In an attempt to reduce emissions, a new type of fuel (which varies a lot from batch to batch) has been introduced, without proper testing. Sometimes batches work OK, others are terrible.

      The Mauritus oil spill seems to have occurred because of a problem with VLSFO. In general, VLSFO can cause many types of failures:

      1. Fires and explosions in the engine room
      2. Unexpected engine shut downs – especially during cold weather
      3. Critical parts of engines cracking and snapping off
      4. Runaway engines
      5. Excess pollution (ranging from excess oil sludge being dumped over the side of ships, higher carbon dioxide emissions, sulfur dioxide emissions that exceed the internationally agreed limits, and excess black particulate matter known as soot)

      This fuel is being used by 70% of ships.

      I am afraid this is a huge problem for the shipping industry.

  7. Robert Firth says:

    All great art creates without destroying. Under which category I include nothing written by Nietzsche.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      All those medieval tempera paintings of the Madonna and child would have been difficult without breaking a few eggs.

      The plants (wood, rarely cotton) on which they were painted grew only in soil fed by the death of other plants.

      Oil from plants is now used to make paints, which involves destroying plants.

      The law of the conservation of mass tells us that matter is always reused, and never added to in a closed system.

      All things come to be only in so far as others pass away.

      It is a universal cycle of creation out of the destruction of another. There is no way around it.

      Humans may impose value judgements that one certain thing should not be destroyed to make another – like the bricks of the Colosseum should not relocated to make churches (which they were).

      But that is just our ability to be selective in our destruction and to destroy other things instead. It is not an exception to the rule.

    • Mirror on the wall says:

      It would be difficult to print all those copies of Shakespeare plays without cutting down trees.

      Industrial civilisation as a whole depends on fossil fuels from plants, animals and other creatures who perished millions of years ago.

      Our way of life, with all of its arts that are available to the masses, would not be possible without their prior destruction.

      You cannot make an omelette without broken eggs and many of them you have to break yourself.

      That is how the earth is. And if you want to believe in a God, then that is how God made it to be.

      • I think you are ignoring the matter of scale

        Shakespeare’s printed first folios mattered little when most of the population were illiterate

        • Mirror on the wall says:

          I was not trying to impose value judgements regarding scale, and yes thus far I ‘ignored scale’.

          A popular book, by definition, is liable to go to further editions however.

          The Bible is often considered to be an even ‘greater work of art’ and that has more printed copies than any other – entire forests.

  8. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The European Union rejected the U.K.’s latest concessions on fishing, two officials said, dealing a setback to efforts to secure a post-Brexit trade deal…

    “With only nine days left before the U.K. leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union with or without an agreement, there are few signs a deal is within reach.”

  9. Yoshua says:

    The B line of the virus doesn’t have a linear evolution.

    The virus has been genetically modified.

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      I’m out of my depth with virology but FWIW:

      “…scientists have never seen the virus acquire more than a dozen mutations seemingly at once.

      “They think it happened during a long infection of a single patient that allowed SARS-CoV-2 to go through an extended period of fast evolution, with multiple variants competing for advantage.”

      • This is a very interesting article. I was wondering how anyone could come up with a conclusion that this mutation was spreading so quickly.

        I keep wondering how much our meddling with natural processes has added to the problem. Did our use of healthcare keep this patient alive for a very long time, so these many mutations could take place, for example? If we had simply “let the virus run,” with very limited treatment of patients with the virus, would it simply be gone by now. Some people would have died, but perhaps not as many in total as our meddling with natural systems created.

        The article also says,

        He [Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge] also engineered a lentivirus to express mutated versions of the spike protein and found that the deletion alone made that virus twice as infectious. He is now conducting similar experiments with viruses that carry both the deletion and the N501Y mutation.

        Haven’t researchers figured out that messing around with making viruses more infectious in the lab is an incredibly stupid thing to do? There is a chance the virus could get out. How do we know that the virus with seventeen mutations is not lab produced?

        • genome#hdkldfl;df;f;fl;flflk838949040 says:

          “Haven’t researchers figured out that messing around with making viruses more infectious in the lab is an incredibly stupid thing to do?”

          Nerds will be nerds.

        • genome#hdkldfl;df;f;fl;flflk838949040 says:

          “engineered a lentivirus to express mutated versions of the spike protein and found that the deletion alone made that virus twice as infectious.”

          He just guaranteed funding for the rest of his life. His wife will wear designer clothes. His kids will get EVs on their 16th birthday.


    • The view you give certainly looks like the virus has been genetically modified. It is bizarre. I wonder if the new vaccines work at all against it.

    • goodluck says:

      Punishment for brexit

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